“The Inn of The Sixth Happiness” (“The Small Woman”) by Alan Burgess. Gladys Aylward, named by the Chinese, Ai-weh-deh (the Virtuous Woman), was a mere parlor-maid in London, but she had a burning desire to go to China as a missionary to preach the Word of God. She did not have the education to achieve her dream, so saved her small wages until she had enough train-fare to cross over Siberia and enter China, eventually arriving in Shansi to help the missionary there. With Jeannie Lawson, they open The Inn of Eight Happinesses (The Inn of The Sixth Happiness must be the movie title only). Upon Jeannie’s death, Gladys continues her work, and from being a hated white devil, she wins over the respect of the locals, until she becomes beloved for her tireless efforts to help them.
This is a true story about The Small Woman who accomplished many miracles while dedicating her life to the people in China, eventually leading 100 children over the mountains to safety from the invading Japanese Army in early 1940, during their push into China. Almost fatally wounded, she is returned to England for medical treatment, and then was refused back into China. She loved China, and became fluent in the mountain dialect where she lived and taught, and had actually become a Chinese citizen. Basically, she gave up her life in England to live in her adopted country, and fell in love with a Chinese Army colonel, but never married. Unable to return to China, she taught and preached in England until finally settling in Taiwan, where she started the Gladys Aylward Orphanage. She remained there until her death, never returning to China.
This was a very interesting book, filled with action, adventure, and danger. It records the terror of the Japanese invasion in China during the late 1930s and early ‘40s. Highly recommended for history lovers, and anyone looking for an exciting read about true-life adventure and danger.